Missouri State University
Cassidy Johnson

Cassidy Johnson

Adding a fresh face to engineering

"CLAMS” project just the start for future electrical engineer.

 Cassidy Johnson doesn’t mind working with the boys. Or teaching them.

Whether she’s collaborating on a new product or helping as a teacher’s assistant (TA), Johnson feels right at home.

“I love being a TA and helping students who are just starting out find their way,” said Johnson, an electrical engineering major at Missouri State.

Johnson is doing her part to shorten the gender gap in her profession.

Only 27% of the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) workforce are female.

“I get excited about it because you don’t see a lot of women in the engineering field or STEM,” she said. “It’s neat because I can stand on my own with all the other guys there.”

Through Missouri State and Missouri S&T’s cooperative engineering programs, Johnson has tapped into her creative side.

Teaming up for award-winning research

Cassidy Johnson showing off CLAMS display.

For her senior project, Johnson and three classmates – Tyler Tracy, Whitney Vermillion and Dominic Zucchini – produced the Contactless Acquisition and Monitoring System (CLAMS).

In simple terms, CLAMS is a subtle, low-cost way to monitor water systems in real time.

CLAMS can measure water level, flow speed and temperature.

The goal: Give back to the community and create an asset for city planning.

“CLAMS can be used to check how a water system is doing. If any abnormalities come up, those can be observed and a solution can be prepared.”

CLAMS currently monitors Jordan Creek, which runs through the heart of downtown Springfield and underneath the Robert W. Plaster Free Enterprise Center.

Plaster Center hosts engineering classrooms and labs, among other features.

In the back of the Plaster Center, you can see water flow details from Jordan Creek – recorded via CLAMS – on display.

Johnson explained how it all works.

“We have a sensor that goes underneath the engineering building (Plaster Center) and into Jordan Creek. It senses the water level there and records that information,” she said. “Then, it sends the data back to the building an into a Raspberry Pi, which is a small computer system on a chip.

“That info gets uploaded to a program, which takes the data and formats everything for display.”

Johnson led documentation and assisted with hardware use, wiring and display case design.

“It was a team effort... There wasn’t a huge divide in work areas among our group,” Johnson said.

CLAMS took about eight months from start to finish. The project won 1st place in the engineering category at the 2021 CNAS Undergraduate Research Symposium.

Johnson’s team received a certificate and prize money.

“We weren’t a shoo-in by any means, but we felt pretty confident about placing based on the amount of work we had put in,” Johnson said. “When we won, we were all like, ‘Oh wow, this is great!’”

No student loan burden

Johnson, who double-majors in physics, will graduate with little student debt.

She reduced her tuition costs with an array of scholarships and financial aid.

Johnson has earned the MSU Board of Governors Scholarship, Bright Flight funding, transfer scholarships and scholarships from Missouri S&T.

“They’ve helped a lot,” said Johnson, a Central High School graduate. “The thing that’s really helped me is being able to live at home, since MSU is in Springfield and that’s where I’m from. My scholarships can just be used for tuition. I still pay a little, but it’s not too bad.”

Johnson has her eyes on graduate school. As she weighs her options, Johnson is confident she’ll take the right career path.

“I want to see which part of electrical engineering I like the most then pursue that,” Johnson said. “I’ve really enjoyed controls and automation, so maybe something in that aspect.”